The word ‘VBS’ brings images of a church filled with children all ready for the Bible stories, energizing music, creative crafts and snacks. Leaders have been trained to deliver a power packed program, with spaces decorated to help transport kids to another world – any place you can imagine. The program is filled with all kinds of tools to help tell the Bible stories in interesting ways. God will bless this work!
But what if there is no church, or beautifully decorated spaces or even a chair to sit on? What if it is a patch of grass or dirt in a yard next to a cornfield or a room in a house with only one light and no windows? And what if it pours down rain complicating things even more? And what if the kids can’t read or write their name? The expectation might be a failed mission. God had other plans. He always does! We just needed to be available to serve.
This describes the adventure we were on. VBS in Sumpango. Did our creative Global Shore leaders, Katrina Janzen, Karla Ponce and Christoph Sanz really know what they were asking us to do? Surely this was not a good fit. Look at us! Our average age is 55 years old. With the exception of one family, our Spanish skills were limited. But our leaders knew this was not your normal VBS. These children didn’t need a sophisticated program; they just needed someone to demonstrate God’s love for them in a tangible way.
There was lots of uncertainty in our group but a willingness to head up the mountain to Sumpango. We piled in the van with all our supplies and gifts and bounced over the near impassable mountain road, suitable only for a pack animal. The final destiny was a few tin-sided houses where doors opened onto the road, dogs ran freely and kids emerged from nowhere. Some came from further down the mountain. Still others arrived later just finishing up their work in the fields. Not to forget the spectators made up of mothers, some with babies, wondering what this was all about.
Our mission was to bless these families but in turn we were blessed. God opened the eyes of our hearts as we shared God’s love through stories, songs, games, crafts, snacks and gifts. Their enthusiasm and readiness to learn was overwhelming. These children and moms had so little and were so appreciative giving us big hugs before we left.
Our prayer is that the seeds of truth will be sown in their hearts and God will work a miracle in the lives of these families.
‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ (Matthew 25:40)